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Gold Coast Broadwater no closer to welcoming supermaxis

by Jeni Bone on 29 Jul 2014
The Gold Coast's jewel in the crown, the Broadwater requires constant dredging and pumping. SW
The arrival of some of the world’s fastest and largest yachts at the end of this year’s Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race was another disappointment for those hoping to see the super maxis grace the Broadwater.

Silting is still too severe for yachts like Wild Oats XI and Perpetual LOYAL to enter the otherwise picturesque waterway.
Crews were brought in on tenders, the Broadwater considered too shallow to risk allowing the yachts passage to the traditional finish line, the Southport Yacht Club.

The race is deemed the second most significant bluewater event on the yachting calendar behind the Rolex Sydney Hobart. This year’s event attracted 57 entries, which departed Sydney on Saturday and the first of the fleet arrived Sunday afternoon.
Wild Oats XI secured line honours while Celestial was declared the winner overall.

Southport Yacht Club outgoing-commodore, Ian Hall said the neglect of the Broadwater was the cause of a loss of a lot of revenue to the Gold Coast, which would most certainly come from major international regattas and races. He said the lack of access also hampered the area economically as the larger boats needed fuel and supplies.

'It’s been a bone of contention in yachting circles for many years that we can’t get some of these larger yachts in through the seaway.'

Southport Yacht Club anticipates around 500 people coming to the Club to enjoy the camaraderie and merchandise at the finish line.

'It’s a shame they can’t make their way through the Seaway to the Club. I think there would be hundreds of people on the Gold Coast who would love to catch a glimpse of iconic yachts like Wild Oats XI.'

Dredging and other programs are the responsibility of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority. CEO, Hal Morris told MBW that the organisation is 'well aware of the contribution yachting and boating make to the Gold Coast economy and lifestyle'.

'We are dredging as fast as we can, within the environmental parameters. It’s an ongoing program,' he said, referring to the natural effect of silting from tidal action.

'We have undertaken four times the dredging than ever before. It used to receive an allocated budget of $2.5m per annum and we now spend around $10m, which is part of the State Government’s $36m over four years.'

There have been six dredging episodes in the past 12 months, Morris continued. 'That has opened up the sheltered waters between Gold Coast and Brisbane. We have also done three areas around Wavebreak Island, and will soon start work on the Labrador Channel.'

But the question remains: Will the Gold Coast ever be able to welcome the supermaxis or major international events such as the Volvo Ocean Race?

'It will be tough to meet their requirements. I am not going to say never, but we are working towards it. Dredging and the other important facet of the program, pumping out the sand to keep the Seaway open are our priorities, in perpetuity. Each year our Sand Bypass System pumps out 600,000 cubic metres of sand moved by northern drift just to keep the Seaway open.

'With plans for a Cruise Ship Terminal, everything’s on the table. I have seen plans which show more berths for spuperyachts and maxis, but as yet, there is nothing set in stone in terms of approved construction or timelines.'

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